Being a selective selection of some of today's new releases--this week, we'll look at a modern lover, a man you think you really know, a new take on Congotronics and soul songs with the spirit of the Beach Boys' SMiLE.
(clockwise from top left)
JONATHAN RICHMAN, O MOON, QUEEN OF NIGHT ON EARTH (VAPOR RECORDS; VAPORRECORDS.COM)
Today is a good day because former Modern Lovers leader Jonathan Richman's new album, O Moon, Queen of Night on Earth, is out now on Neil Young's imprint, Vapor Records. O Moon shows that Richman's still able to conjure up grand emotions with his reliable raw minimalism and adorable melodies. The title fits perfectly--this album is unsurprisingly romantic and characteristically and subtly charming. You can't listen to "These Bodies That Came to Cavort" and not want to ditch your boring office job and run out into the streets dancing.
VARIOUS ARTISTS, TRADI-MODS VS ROCKERS: ALTERNATIVE TAKES ON CONGOTRONICS (CRAMMED DISCS; CRAMMED.BE)
Belgium-based label Crammed Discs' latest offering is Tradi-mods vs Rockers, a double-disc tribute to the alternate-future kit-bashed electro-beat of Congotronics. Tradi-Mods features 25 new interpretations of the tradi-moderne works of African groups like the legendary Konono N°1, Kasai Allstars, Sobanza Mimanisa, Kisanzi Congo, Kasai Allstars, Masanka Sankayi and Basokin by Animal Collective, Jolie Holland, Deerhoof, Juana Molina, Glenn Kotche, and many more. Some are covers, others are remixes, and a few are ... uh ... very loose homages. The tracks that are decent are from bands that already play with the same kind of infectious rhythms and powerful beats--like Animal Collective, Deerhoof, Juana Molina. The rest are interesting in theory but sadly forgettable.
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GARY WILSON, ELECTRIC ENDICOTT (WESTERN VINYL; WESTERNVINYL.COM)
His wonderful weirdness Gary Wilson returns with Electric Endicott, another album full of awkward pop and electro-funk songs about teenage infatuation and romantic creepiness. The title track is groovy and catchy--a real reminder of the genius of his 1977 opus You Think You Really Know Me, recorded thirty years prior in the basement of his parents' house in Endicott, New York. If you've never heard Gary Wilson before, pick up You Think You Really Know Me first. But if you're already a fan, you won't be disappointed with Electric Endicott.
VARIOUS ARTISTS, GROOVE MERCHANT TURNS 20 (UBIQUITY; UBIQUITYRECORDS.COM)
This compilation celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Groove Merchant record store on Haight Street in San Francisco, the birthplace of Ubiquity Records and sister label Luv N'Haight. Groove Merchant Turns 20 is a killer 14-song compilation of funk, soul, folk, and jazz tracks curated by Groove Merchant store owner Chris Veltri in collaboration with Luv N'Haight. The added bonus is the cover art--a knowing nod to the original but never-released Beach Boys' SMiLE LP.